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LePage dodges DeSantis-versus-Trump talk after attending Florida governor's event

lepage photo.jpg
Steve Mistler
Maine Public
Former Gov. Paul LePage and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu talk with the general manager of Messer Truck Equipment in Westbrook during a campaign stop Wednesday.

Former Republican Gov. Paul LePage declined to say Wednesday who he'll back in a prospective GOP presidential primary contest between former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

LePage recently attended an event hosted by DeSantis in Fort Lauderdale, which has been reported as a confab with the Florida governor's top donors and allies.

But LePage, who's attempting to unseat Democratic Gov. Janet Mills this year, said his attendance at the Florida event was related to his own campaign and he declined to say whether he'll back DeSantis or Trump if the two faceoff in a Republican primary.

"I went to raise money because a lot of Mainers that have money are in Florida," he said.

When a reporter asked if LePage would support DeSantis if he decides to run, LePage responded, "I'm not supporting anybody at this point. I'm friends with him [DeSantis]. I'm friends with a lot of governors."

DeSantis is considered a rising star in the GOP and a recent poll by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center showed him in a dead heat with Trump among Granite State Republicans.

A national poll commissioned by the New York Times found that nearly half of Republican primary voters appear open to the idea of ditching Trump.

It also showed DeSantis, who has not made any announcements about a presidential bid, as the former president's top prospective challenger.

That's put some Trump-aligned Republicans like LePage in a bit of a bind; LePage has described himself as a Trump prototype and he was a fierce advocate for him, serving as his state campaign chairman in 2020.

LePage said Wednesday that he has no intention of getting involved in the pre-primary chatter and is focusing on his contest against Mills.

"Once I'm governor, I'll tell you what I'm going to do," he said.